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Singapore Armed Forces
- May 28, 2018 -

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The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is the military component of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Singapore as part of the city-state's Total Defence strategy.

The SAF has three services: the Singapore Army, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and the Republic of Singapore Navy(RSN). The SAF protects the interests, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Singapore from external threats.

The SAF relies heavily on a large pool of conscripts in the active and reserve forces. It has an active strength of around 71,600 personnel and is capable of mobilising over a million reservists. National Servicemen (NSmen) make up more than 80% of its military defence system and form the backbone of the SAF.

The SAF was formed in 1966. Singapore's military role stems from its strategic geographical location, an asset exploited by both local settlers and foreign colonists alike. Archaeological excavations have discovered remnants of fortresses and other forms of military fortifications in pre-colonial Singapore. Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of modern Singapore, chose Singapore in 1819 to establish a new British colony with the security concerns of the British in the Far East in mind against the Dutch. Thus, Singapore, which attained Crown Colony status, played an active role in British military interests for decades, particularly in the years leading up to the First and Second World War.

The Singapore Armed Forces has its humble origin in the Straits Settlements Volunteer Force (SSVF, formed in 1922) as well as Raffles Institution Army Corps formed on 15 May 1901, which in turn had its roots in the Singapore Volunteer Artillery (SVA, formed in 1888). The Motto of the SVA is "In Oriente Primus" (Latin: First in the East), which is still in use today by the artillery formations of the Singapore Army. In 1915 it helped to suppress the mutiny of the Sepoys in Singapore.

During World War II, the SSVF took part in the Battle of Singapore but most of its members were captured on 15 February 1942 when their positions were overrun by Japanese forces. After the end of the war, the SSVF was re-constituted in 1948, but the SVF was absorbed into the Singapore Military Forces (SMF, predecessor of the SAF) following the disbandment of the SSVF in 1954. Subsequently, in 1961, SMF was renamed to Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

When Singapore achieved independence in 1965, its military consisted of only two infantry regiments, commanded by British officers and made up of mostly non-Singaporean residents. Britain pulled its military out of Singapore in October 1971, leaving behind only a small amount of British, Australian and New Zealand forces as a token military presence. The last of the British soldiers left Singapore in March 1976. The New Zealand troops were the last to leave Singapore, in 1989. Singapore believed that it need a larger, capable yet economic-efficient defence force to protect and defend itself, where the country's geographical location surrounded by larger neighbouring countries in the South-east Asia region. At that time, Singapore enlisted the covert assistance of Israel, which sent its military advisers who helped Singapore set up a defence force modelled in part after the Israel Defense Forces. Trainings such as jungle warfare were jointly studied so that the Singaporean army may engage in possible combat conflict on the soils of neighbouring countries, if need be. The army procured battle tanks from Israel before neighbouring Malaysia acquired theirs, having an edge for a highly effective fighting armed forces.

Singapore Armed Forces Day is commemorated by the SAF annually on 1 July, with a parade held at the Singapore Armed Forces Military Institute or SAFTI.

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